Today marks a significant victory for the gay rights movement after the Supreme Court ruled the Federal Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and dismissed the Proposition 8 appeal by a 5-4 vote.
Led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court struck down a section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.
The majority writes, “DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells these couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition.” The majority goes on to say that DOMA "places same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage" and that it "humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples."
The court also dismissed Proposition 8, paving the way for same-sex marriage in California.
The pair of rulings signify a major advance in civil liberties for same-sex couples and reflect a growing belief that all married couples should have equal access to federal benefits.
Celebrations have erupted around the country and Obama publicly applauded the Supreme Court's decision in a statement released today:
"This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.
This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better."
Yet, the decision was also met with resistance, particularly from Representative Michele Bachman who released a statement saying, “For thousands of years of recorded human history, no society has defended the legal standard of marriage as anything other than between man and woman.”
To which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi leaves us with a telling, two-word reply: